South Uist resident Captain Eoghann Maclachlainn was presented with the General Service Medal 62 with Clasp South Arabia at a ceremony at Edinburgh Castle last weekend – more than 50 years after he was seriously injured in a battle which took place overseas while on a Territorial Army mission.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil attended the special occasion to see Captain Maclachlainn finally receive recognition from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Medals will also be issued to the families of Sergeant Major John Lonergan who was killed in the battle in 1965, and Sergeant George Gibson Earl.
They were all members of the 300 Parachute Field Squadron Royal Engineers, 131 Parachute Engineer Regiment TA who were the first Squadron to see action after WW2. They were attacked by enemy fire during a training exercise and the ensuing battle led to the loss of two lives and five others including Captain Maclachlainn and Sergeant Earl, were wounded.
Mr MacNeil received confirmation from Earl Howe, Minister of State in the House of Lords, last month that Medals would now be issued. This follows more than two years of Mr MacNeil writing to the MoD pressing for action to remedy the injustice.
The MoD have previously stated that members of the squadron were not eligible for General Service Medals because they were in South Arabia on training and not operational duties.
Mr MacNeil, who has known Captain Maclachlainn for many years said: “It was a great occasion to see Eoghann finally receive recognition of his service.
“I have been writing to the MoD about this injustice for more than 2 years and am delighted that they have finally taken action.
“However all the brave men who served in 300 Parachute Field Squadron deserve recognition for their service. The battle which took place at 0015 hours on 12 April 1965, was not part of a training exercise but was active service.
“The award for Captain Maclachlainn and others is a very welcome step forward in what has been a long running campaign for the veterans.”
The Medal was presented to Captain Maclachlainn by Governor of the Castle Major General Mike Riddell-Webster CBE DSO.